This has been the standard Sophie operating procedure for the last few weeks:
(1) We put her to bed, after 1/2 hour of cuddling and reading books, and she cries because she’s “scared.”
(2) She asks us to stay with her for a little while longer, and we do because we’re suckers.
(3) When she’s fallen enough asleep so that she doesn’t hear our footsteps on the creaky floor, we sneak out of her room.
(4) She wakes up when we get ready for bed, whimpering at first, and then sitting up in her bed using full-blown tears and loud sobs.
(5) We desperately try to ignore her (this is a relatively new step for us, because it took us a week or so to determine that her cries were not indicative of a serious problem, but rather her realization that midnight crying results in hugs and more cuddles).
(6) We go to sleep and about an hour or two later (by now, we’re deep into the early morning hours of 2 AM), the cries start up again.
(7) Soon after, the words start up as well. Through the tears, they go something like this:
(a) “Papa, papa!” (Papa is always her first choice).
(b) “Momma, Momma!” (I’m always the fallback).
(c) “My stomach hurts!”
(d) “My mouth hurts!” (sometimes it’s her toes)
(8) Because our hearts have hardened after a couple of weeks of this torture, we now let her cry it out. It often takes more than a few minutes before she falls back asleep. But in yet another attempt to gain our sympathy, she recently adopted a last-ditch effort to get us into her room during these night terrors. After the various exclamations about her woeful body parts (see steps 7(c) and (d) above), she now adds the following through her sobs:
“I love you! I love you!”
(9) That’s when we laugh (that sounds so cruel, but I’m just being honest) – because by then, we’re no longer sleeping, of course. But we can’t go into her room. We just can’t. So Sophie cries some more, until she falls asleep again.
(10) About two hours later, she’s back at it, and by now, it’s usually 4 AM.
Sophie doesn’t yet realize that all this crying wolf is going to get her nowhere when something is really wrong. But at least we know she loves us. Even when we ignore her.